Scratching makes itching worse – study

  • 04/11/2014

Mothers who tell their kids not to scratch when they get itchy may be right after all.

New research suggests scratching might make you feel good, but it won't actually stop the tickle – in fact, it makes it worse.

"When you scratch yourself it causes pain – a very small amount of pain – and what that does is distract you from the itchiness," says Auckland University nanotechnology expert Michelle Dickinson.

"That pain travels up to your brain, and your brain's like, 'Oh no, we're in pain,' so it releases a neurotransmitter called serotonin. Serotonin is released and dulls that pain that you've just caused yourself – which is great, apart from researchers just found that serotonin also intensifies itch.

"So what you're doing is dulling the pain, but also making it more itchy – that causes you to scratch some more, which causes pain, more itchiness – it's an endless cycle."

The discovery could lead to treatments that prevent scratching from deteriorating into a spiral of itchiness and pain.

For more on this and some of the week's other science stories, watch the video for the full interview with Auckland University nanotechnology expert Michelle Dickinson.

source: newshub archive


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